The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, yesterday, pleaded with the state Commissioner of Police, Johnson Babatunde Kokumo to allow officers and men of his command to return to their duty posts and make their presence visible to secure lives and property of the citizens of the state.
The governor made the appeal yesterday, when he paid a solidarity visit to the command in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest that led to the destruction of lives and property, including the burning down of the police stations in the state.
Obaseki said their absence on the roads and some conspicuous places in the state could easily be interpreted by the hoodlums who hijacked the good intentions of the #EndSARS protest as weakness and cowardice on the part of the police, adding that the police should do everything within their powers to quickly correct that wrong impression.
He said the government and people of Edo State are solidly behind the police command and to give them the needed support and encouragement that they needed to move on and get rid of all the criminal elements in the state.
The governor said as part of his concern and sharing in their plights, he has ordered for patrol vans to be supplied and given to the police to aid their operations in the state, while the medical bills of the injured officers would also be taken care of by the government just as he said he would rebuild the burnt police stations.
Edo State government will now proceed immediately to begin to rebuild your destroyed building. We have already ordered for some patrol vehicles and we hope it will be delivered in the next few weeks. We will be responsible for the hospital bills of officers who have been hurt in the last few weeks,” he said.
The governor however, vowed that the inmates who escaped will not celebrate the Christmas with other citizens of the state and that they will certainly be rearrested while those who saw the prison gates flung opened and chose to stay back, will have their cases reviewed.
Earlier, the Commissioner of Police, Kokumo, said the presence of the state governor in their midst has boosted their morale to resume and reclaim the state from the hoodlums after the #EndSARS protest.
Kokumo said about 11 of his officers were injured by the protesters and that out of the 11 injured, 10 of them have been discharged from the hospital while one other is still at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, (UBTH) for treatment.
He said after the #EndSARS protest, the command arrested 126 criminal suspects and that out of the said number, 10 of them were the inmates who escaped from the Correctional Centres in the state.
The Commissioner of Police disclosed that seven police stations, 10 police vans and several personal and exhibit vehicles were burnt, adding that seven AK47 riffles carted away have been recovered.
He, therefore, appealed to the governor to help foot the hospital bills of the injured policemen and render other financial assistance to men of the command to boost their morale so that they can regain all that they have lost to the #EndSARS protest.